Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
ADME Tox
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

A Vaccine for Heroin Addiction

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Heroin addiction has proven especially hard to treat through vaccination because of the speed it metabolizes in the body.

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been working to develop vaccines for drug addiction since the early 1990s. Currently, TSRI vaccines for cocaine and nicotine addiction are in clinical trials, with one for methamphetamine nearing the research phase. 

A TSRI research team led by Professor Kim Janda and Professor George F. Koob, who chairs TSRI's Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, has developed a vaccine that successfully prevents heroin from reaching the brain. In trials, the vaccine caused heroin-addicted rats with access to an unlimited supply of the drug to stop taking it. 

"Heroin-addicted rats deprived of the drug will normally resume using it compulsively if they regain access, but our vaccine stops this from happening," said Dr. Koob. If the vaccine proves as effective in human trials, it could help heroin addicts committed to recovery; heroin addiction is estimated to affect more than 10 million people worldwide. Because heroin is often injected, users who share syringes are not only at risk for fatalities from overdose, but also of contracting many other diseases including HIV and hepatitis C. 

The TSRI vaccines treat drug addiction by causing the immune system to treat the drug molecules as a pathogen, like a bacteria or virus, and to send out antibodies to bind to them and neutralize them before they enter the brain – where they cause the high that addicts crave. Common drug molecules are too small and simple to stimulate the immune system sufficiently on their own, but vaccine designers affix key fragments of the molecules to larger more immune-provoking carrier proteins. 

Designing an effective vaccine against heroin has been particularly challenging because the drug breaks down rapidly in the bloodstream into 6-acetylmorphine and morphine. The TSRI team had to develop a vaccine that not only triggered antibodies for heroin, but these other molecules as well. 

"The vaccine effectively tracks the drug as it is metabolized, keeping the active breakdown products out of the brain, and that, I think, explains its success," said Dr. Janda, who is TSRI's Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Chair in Chemistry, and whose laboratory initially developed the vaccine three years ago. 

After Dr. Janda's initial success, researchers in Dr. Koob's laboratory put the vaccine through more rigorous tests. In one test, severely addicted rats taking heroin compulsively in escalating amounts were forced to abstain from the drug for 30 days before their access was renewed. In rats that had received a dummy vaccine, compulsive heroine intake resumed and re-escalated. But in the vaccinated rats, intake failed to escalate and none of the rats resumed compulsively taking the drug.

"Basically we were able to stop them from going through that cycle of taking more and more heroin," said TSRI Research Associate Joel Schlosburg. "And that was with the vaccine alone; ideally for human patients, the vaccine would be given with other treatments." 

Users frequently relapse after conventional treatment for heroin addiction, and the vaccine may prevent renewed addiction in people who begin taking the drug again after beginning recovery. The vaccine would also likely make it impossible for an addict to overdose on the drug since the drug is neutralized before it can do any damage. The vaccine could be ready for human trials later this year.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Surprising Twist in Immune Biology
TSRI researchers have found the ‘lead actors’ in immune cell development, shedding light on casues of autoimmune disease.
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
Breakthrough Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment
Scripps scientists have designed a drug candidate that decreases growth of breast cancer cells.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
New Approach to Curbing Cancer Cell Growth
Using a new approach, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and collaborating institutions have discovered a novel drug candidate that could be used to treat certain types of breast cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Vaccine Against Dangerous Designer Opioids
With use of synthetic opioid "designer drugs" on the rise, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have a new strategy to curb addiction and even prevent fatal overdoses.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Scripps Research Institute Creates New Drug Discovery Initiative
Scripps Advance is a new drug discovery initiative to translate early-stage biomedical research projects into clinical development candidates.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Discovery of Biological Energy-Sensing Switch Could Have Broad Implications for Biology and Medicine
Biochemists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered a genetic sequence that can alter its host gene’s activity in response to cellular energy levels.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Paper Finds Microdroplet PCR Enrichment Ideal Targeted Sequencing Solution for Large-Scale Population Studies
UCSD study evaluated microdroplet PCR’s advantages in performing sequence enrichment for targeted sequencing over traditional PCR approach.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Team Led by Scripps Research Scientists Finds new Way that Cells Fix Damage to DNA
Proteins responsible for this type of DNA repair may also limit the effectiveness of chemotherapy agents, which aim to injure tumor DNA.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Scientific News
Fighting Cancer with Sticky Nanoparticles
Treatment that uses bioadhesive nanoparticles drug carriers proved more effective than conventional treatments for certain cancers.
Stem Cell ‘Heart Patch’ Almost Perfected
Scientists aiming to perfect and test 3D "heart patches" in animal model, last hurdle before human patients.
Smart Material Hunts Cancers
Team has created smart material that locates and images cancer or tumour sites in tissue.
Targeting Fat to Treat Cancer
Researchers develop novel cancer treatment that halts fat synthesis in cells, stunting tumors.
Reprogramming Lymph Nodes to Fight MS
Bioengineers work to reprogram lymph node function to fight multiple sclerosis.
Arms Race with a Superbug
Scientists have discovered that increased risk of superbug infection can be directly casued by immune system response to invading bacteria.
Genes Essential to Life Discovered
Genes critical for life are discovered in humans and mice as part of large-scale phenotyping study.
High-Capacity Nanoparticles
New type of nanoparticle can now have three or more drugs packaged within it, allowing for customised cancer therapy.
Manipulation of Liquid Crystals Could Help Control Drug-Delivery Process
Computer modeling, real-world testing yields new method.
Puttng Cells Through Their Paces
An obstacle course for human lung cells could be the answer for better testing the effectiveness of potential new drugs.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!